Every other Tuesday, from 3 to 4:30 p.m. EDT, ProfNet hosts #ConnectChat, a Twitter-based interview that covers topics of interest to media and communications professionals. To participate in the chats, just follow the #ConnectChat hashtag on Twitter the day and time of the chat. You can also find recaps of previous #ConnectChats on ProfNet Connect. Interested in being a featured guest on an upcoming chat? Find out how.
Our latest #ConnectChat, held Tuesday, May 8, featured Thomas Hynes, manager of blogger relations for PR Newswire. Hynes helps bloggers find the content, tools and resources to make their blogs thrive. He spends his days connecting bloggers with news feeds of relevant copy, reviewing exceptional bloggers, and aiding in PR Newswire's various social channels, such as Twitter and Tumblr.
Hynes recently penned an article in PRWeek on “How to Write a Blog Post People Will Read.”
Following is a recap of the chat:
ProfNet: Hello, and welcome to #ConnectChat! Today’s topic is “All About Blogging.” We have with us @ThomasHynes, manager of blogger relations for PR Newswire. Tom helps bloggers find content, tools and resources. He also manages PR Newswire’s For Bloggers site. We’ll start off with a few questions for Tom, but feel free to jump in with your own questions at any time. Hi, Tom. Thanks for being our guest for today’s #ConnectChat!
Hynes: Thanks for having me. Can't wait to hear all the blogging questions.
ProfNet: Tell us a little about what you do as manager of blogger relations for PR Newswire.
Hynes: My main goal is to help bloggers. At times that means providing content, at times that means tools and resources, and at times that means highlighting bloggers that are doing great work. I also help out on @prnewswire and prnewswire.tumblr.com.
Hynes: A lot of those bloggers find me! When I need to find them, I ask the "crowd" on Twitter and my old friend, Google. So, some of it is word of mouth and some is old-fashioned research with new-school technologies and search engines.
ProfNet: What makes a good blog/blog post?
Hynes: Think about it from the point of view of the reader. Would they want to click it, read it, share it? Know your audience!
@cjshaffer1: Interesting and relevant content!
ProfNet: That always helps!
@CKomisarjevsky: Like a good column, a good blog has to share a unique perspective or insight.
Hynes: Furthermore, honesty and voice make a blog post good. Pictures and other multimedia also never hurt!
@cjshaffer1: I have to agree. Voice is a big one. It helps show you are a real person/company.
Hynes: People ultimately want to read blogs from real people. Call it perspective or voice, it's crucial to good blogging.
@cjshaffer1: Exactly! Blogging, in general, is about creating a connection with the readers, just like any other writing.
Hynes: Totally! Blogging allows for connecting/commenting. Might as well embrace it and use it to your advantage.
@CKomisarjevsky: A personal/from-experience perspective is also key to being effective. It speaks to genuine and real. Talking through shared experiences and stories would seem to create a bond with readers.
@OGPR: Links, links, links. If you reference a news article, a YouTube video, a Twitter user, link to it!
ProfNet: I completely agree. Mention and link to others and they'll share your post, meaning more (and possibly new) readers.
@nalts: How do I "deboringify" my blog?
Hynes: Great question! Before writing, ask yourself: Would I share this? If so, keep typing. Being honest really goes a long way, too. Plus, write in your own voice. Make it read like how you talk.
@CKomisarjevsky: What is the best length for a blog? If a traditional op-ed is roughly 700 words, enough to share a thought in its entirety, what about a blog?
Hynes: There is no hard rule here, but I like mine to be less than 600 words. Plus, attention spans keep shrinking. Having said that, long form still has a home on the blogosphere.
@MrsARodriguez: My high-school English teacher used to say the best length is "not too long, but not too short." LOL
@CKomisarjevsky: Do bloggers re-post the same blog if it doesn't get a response or reaction?
ProfNet: I wouldn't. Find another angle, or revisit it at a later time with an "update" post on the topic.
Hynes: I agree. You wouldn't want to be accused of spamming!
@KamaTimbrell: Reposting content is bad for SEO.
@CKomisarjevsky: Are there any statistics on the number of reads per blog, e.g., “reach”?
Hynes: A lot depends on the platform. Wordpress and Blogger have decent analytics. Tumblr is catching up. It gets tricky in a quality vs. quantity regard. Is it better to have 1,000 passive reads or a dozen engaging ones?
ProfNet: Speaking of platform, are different platforms more appropriate for different types of blogs?
Hynes: I actually use Wordpress, Tumblr and Blogger, and they each have their advantages. Tumblr is definitely the most social of the three, Wordpress definitely has the best analytics (in my opinion), and Blogger is easy to use and has decent tracking. It really depends on what you're trying to get out of it. In my opinion, business = Wordpress; personal = Blogger; social = Tumblr.
@cjshaffer1: From an SEO standpoint, you should be hosting it on your site, not theirs. Not to mention self-hosting lets you choose your analytics platform and measure what you think truly matters.
Hynes: Right, right. We could probably have a separate #ConnectChat drilling down the differences there!
ProfNet: I blog regularly on ProfNet Connect, and one issue I face is writer's block. Any tips? How do you come up with ideas? I try to read other blogs to jumpstart my brain, but even that fails sometimes.
Hynes: Writer's block is a tough one. I had a teacher say the cure was to read or do research. "Go to a library!" he'd yell.
ProfNet: One thing I have found that helps is an editorial calendar. It makes it less stressful to plan blog posts in advance.
Hynes: Deadlines seriously help me, even if they are self-imposed.
@MrsARodriguez: I have a running blog. It took me days to write a half-marathon recap. I had to get my head around the experience.
Hynes: That's awesome! I'm running one later this month. I should probably blog about it!
ProfNet: Besides writer's block, what are some of the issues bloggers face? What do you hear from the bloggers you talk to?
Hynes: Promotion/visibility is a big problem. How do they get pick up? How do they get readers? A lot of great bloggers are not being read. Also, how do you monetize the blog, though I suppose readers and visibility would typically lead to money.
ProfNet: What advice can you give them?
Hynes: Being conversational with other bloggers, doing guest posts, synching with Twitter and Facebook are great places to start.
ProfNet: Guest posts are a great way to find readers -- and blogs are always looking for more content.
@CKomisarjevsky: Your comment on finding readers. It sounds like the challenge of the early days of radio: Who's listening?
Hynes: It's probably very similar. Luckily, there are better measurements. And I suppose the comments = callers?
Hynes: It's a place to find content to write about, resources for bloggers, event listings, and examples of great blogging.
ProfNet: Thanks, Tom, for being a great guest, and thanks to everyone who asked questions and shared expertise. Until next time!
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